Jaunty was miserable. Bugs in the Intel drivers meant that DVD playing stopped working, sounds would occasionally lock up, and things were just painfully slow. Karmic to the rescue. I did the update at beta time like I usually do, and without any further effort:
* Flash just worked.
* DVD playing in totem just worked.
* Boot time was slightly quicker
* nethack-gnome continues to work (despite being removed from the archive a few releases ago)
* Suspend/resume continues to just work.
* Atheros wireless continues to just work with the free kernel drivers.
I then added the dev channel of Google Chrome, which imported all the Firefox bookmarks and started to remove some optional things that Angie doesn't use anymore and don't run well on the now 5 year-old laptop. I took out openoffice, a pile of -dev packages that were leftover from when I used to build glibc on this thing (This laptop had the Hurd running on it at one point... *g*), and then discovered the System->Admin->Package Cleanup (Or at least, it's called something like that, the laptop is in French) where I could start to remove unused packages. I did a few rounds of that, some apt-get autoremove. I took universe and multiverse out of the packages list and did some more removals, making sure to leave in things like deborphan and the gstreamer packages that are in universe and multiverse. Lastly, I did a round of deborphan to take out some pieces that were just hanging out.
As a final step I've updated to grub2. I don't have a separate /boot partition on this machine, so I haven't been brave enough to convert it to ext4 yet.
The boottime at this point still feels a little long for what this laptop does. While at Canonical, I played with some appliance configs and had from kernel load to running firefox in a dozen seconds or some. This laptop doesn't have anything I'd see as unusual for daemons - there's no mysqld, sshd, or anything unneeded like that. But to have everything Just Work(tm) at this stage is amazing.
Nice job. =)
update: Angie's asked me to figure out why the screen saver kicks in after 30 seconds instead of 10 minutes like it's set to. But still, if this is the worst that goes wrong with this release, then it's still a wild success already at Beta.